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Weekly Update from the Field May 25, 2006
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* BFC Family Member Injured: Send Your Love and Support
* Update from the Field
* Montana Will Propose Expanded Bison Hunt
* Summer Tabling Opportunities with BFC!
* Tatanka 2006 ~ Built to Spill Benefit Concert for BFC!
* Last Words

* BFC Family Member Injured: Send Your Love and Support
The BFC family was hit hard this week with the news that Willow Coefield, the 15 year old daughter of long-time BFC board members Su Gregerson and Jim Coefield and a dedicated BFC volunteer in her own right, was hospitalized after being injured in a bad car accident.

Over the past decade Jim, Su, and Willow have devoted tremendous time, love, and energy to the BFC's bison protection efforts. Without their dedication there would be no BFC as we know it. Su launched BFC's email Updates from the Field, created and maintained our original web site, and ensured the financial stability of the organization through her professional and creative fundraising efforts. Jim has long been our technical guru, establishing and maintaining BFC's email accounts and databases, servicing our computers, and overseeing the layout, production, and mailing of our annual newsletter. Together they played a key role in formulating short and long-term strategy and ensuring the stability and efficiency of the Campaign. Willow has always been dedicated to the buffalo, both here in West Yellowstone where she loves to spend time with the buffalo and in Missoula where she gives hundreds of hours to helping with mailings and volunteering at special events.

Willow keeps amazing people with her strength, determination, and healing but her injuries are serious and no one knows how long she will need to be in the hospital. Jim and Su have been at her bedside continuously and for obvious reasons both are taking time off of work. The last thing they need to worry about is money. Please keep Willow, Su, and Jim in your thoughts and prayers and, if you can, help provide the family with financial support so they can keep their focus where it needs to be: on Willow's healing and recovery.

Friends have set up a special account to help this amazing family through this very difficult time.

Please send contributions via mail to:
Benefit for Willow Coefield
Account Number: 236030 (write this on the check and envelope)
Missoula Federal Credit Union
2001 Brooks St.
Missoula, MT 59801

If you'd prefer to make an electronic transfer, you can do so with the following information:
Missoula Federal Credit Union
Benefit for Willow Coefield
Routing Number: 292977899
Account Number: 236030
If you have any questions about how to make a contribution to this account, please call the Missoula Federal Credit Union at: (406) 523-3300

Thank you for your love and support in this difficult time,
Buffalo Field Campaign volunteers, coordinators, and board members
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* Update from the Field
After the DOL's aggressive hazing operations throughout May, Montana's landscape has been haunted. It seemed nothing was left of the buffalo but the sign they had been there, and our memory of their powerful, gentle presence. But the woods around here get pretty thick and buffalo are very good at making themselves invisible when they need to. Being nomadic and strong willed, they also will go where and do what they want; the agents hadn't gotten them all. Unfortunately, those that managed to escape the DOL's wrath were eventually found.

On Tuesday, the DOL first buzzed out on ATVs to haze a group of five bulls off a large field near Fir Ridge, less than a mile from Yellowstone National Park. They ran the bulls to the edge of the Park, that line on the landscape that dictates their fate. The livestock inspectors then joined up with agents from the National Park Service (NPS), Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP), and Gallatin County law enforcement, loaded horses on trailers and headed to Horse Butte, where they found no buffalo. From from the Butte, the agents spotted a group of about twenty moms, babies, yearlings and young bulls along the south side of the Madison River. This small family group had managed to use the forest to their advantage, eluding the DOL's helicopter and horses for the past couple of weeks. But their peace would soon be broken.

Two DOL agents arrived first in their truck. They were in a foul mood. While waiting for the horses and backup law enforcement to arrive, the agents tried to haze the buffalo on foot, yelling at them, throwing up their arms and throwing sand and rocks. They also harassed us, shouting orders for us to return to our car, attempting to prevent BFC from documenting their actions. Though they threatened us with arrest, they would not prevent us from bearing witness for the buffalo. Three horses and riders soon arrived; the agents mounted, law enforcement was in place, and the haze began.

This wily group of buffalo had eluded the agents a few times before, and they made it a challenge for the agents to kick them off their land. For the agents, it was a couple hours of confusion and mayhem within the thick woods. Eventually, the horsemen ran the buffalo family across highway 191 and - without warning - right through Gallatin National Forest's Baker's Hole Campground, where dozens of people were spending vacation days, soaking up Montana's beauty. Unconcerned for the safety of the campers, the horsemen hazed the buffalo through camp sites and into the Madison River towards the Park, as they've done numerous times.

Afterwards, we asked the law enforcement (NPS and Gallatin County sheriff) if they had given any warning to the campers at Baker's Hole to let them know that twenty wild buffalo chased by horses would be stampeding through the campground, jeopardizing their safety. They offered nothing but excuses, and were quite incensed at us for questioning them. Shirking responsibility and touting his "twenty years of experience in this" the NPS agent even went so far as to try and accuse BFC of harassing the buffalo! Challenged, he quickly gave up that non-debate, retreated to his car and drove off.

While the government and livestock inspectors will go to any length to rid Montana of wild buffalo, they are also looking forward to the buffalo's return this winter, when hunters will again be waiting for them at the border (see below).

If only we could learn to be more like the buffalo and less like the thing humans can become. Maybe then we could learn that there is no gain in greed and there is nothing in Nature that is ours to control. If we listen to the buffalo, we can learn to live gently upon the Earth and in agreement with our fellow creatures. Maybe then we would understand not merely co-existence, but living symbiotically, in harmony. Nature may be red in tooth and claw, but she is not greedy.

Roam Free,
~Stephany
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* Montana Will Propose Expanded Bison Hunt
MT Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) held two meetings last week to discuss the recent hunt and their future plans. Most in attendance were representatives of BFC and FWP agents themselves. It was a great opportunity for some frank discussion. BFC outlined our continued opposition to the hunt and pointed out the failings we witnessed this year. Today we learned that FWP plans to recommend issuing 100 permits, one hundred too many and twice as many as last year. If FWP gets their way, seventy of the permits will be to kill buffalo in West Yellowstone and thirty will go to kill buffalo in Gardiner. Sixteen permits will again go to eight Montana tribes. The agency also plans to issue female-only tags in addition to either-sex tags.

On June 8th in Helena, FWP will present their recommendations to the FWP Commission. Another meeting will be held sometime in July, where FWP will make their final recommendation to the Commission. Opportunities for public comment will be available throughout the process, and there's no better time than the present to let your voice be heard for the last wild herd!

For the time being, please contact FWP Region 3 Director Pat Flowers at pflowers@mt.gov and elaborate on the following points:

1. No habitat, no hunt! Wild buffalo must be provided year-round habitat in Montana, the opportunity to restore themselves and establish a viable population within the state before a hunt can be considered. If they insist on a hunt, suggest that FWP increase the bison hunt application fee, with at least $15 from each application going towards the purchase of Montana bison habitat.

2. No Department of Livestock (DOL)! Though FWP crafts the regulations of the hunt, the DOL remains the authorizing agency and - as we witnessed this year - can cancel the hunt to harass and slaughter buffalo. The DOL should stick with inspecting and managing cattle, and should have no dealings in any aspects of wildlife management. FWP must strengthen their backbones and demand the DOL's authority be revoked.

3. If FWP insists on a hunt, it must be as fair as possible. To prevent hunters from hovering at the border of the national park, suggest FWP create a buffer zone of *at least* 1/2 a mile from Yellowstone's boundary. Also, demand that they forbid hunters from shooting buffalo on Dale Koelzer's property, the site of the Duck Creek bison trap and the agents' bison harassment headquarters in West Yellowstone.

4. Tell FWP that you expect them to better educate hunters on the behavior of wild buffalo. Buffalo will mourn their fallen brothers and sisters, and if a hunter insists on killing a buffalo, they must respect them enough to give them the opportunity to do this. Hunters should be forbidden to harass mourning buffalo and must refrain from throwing rocks or other objects at them.

5. Wild buffalo must be classified - year round - as a native wildlife species. Currently, wild buffalo hold a dual status in Montana. During hunting season they are classified as both "an animal in need of disease control" and also a "game species." As natives to all of Montana, buffalo should be permanently classified, respected and valued as a native wildlife species.

6. Question FWP about whether this hunt, given the lack of fear bison have toward humans, can meet the state's legal requirement of "fair chase," and if FWP genuinely believes that the bison will become more skittish around humans in time, how will that behavior change affect the ability of millions of tourists to enjoy the bison in Yellowstone National Park, and why hasn't FWP ever evaluated that potential impact in any of its hunt documents?

Please include your own thoughts, ideas and feelings. Remind FWP that the Yellowstone bison herd is the last wild herd left in the country and that as such, it deserves protection, not more persecution. If you are a hunter, your voice has a special place in these discussions; wild buffalo need you to advocate for their right to roam free and restore themselves on all available habitat prior to any hunt.

Send your comments to pflowers@mt.gov and please send a copy to
BFC at bfc-media"at"wildrockies.org. For more information about the hunt, or to view video footage from the last hunt, visit: http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/legislative/bisonhuntingbill.html.
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* Summer Tabling Opportunities with BFC!
Buffalo Field Campaign has positions open for summer tablers in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks from June 10 through September 5, 2006. We are looking for 3-4 dedicated people who are well-versed on the buffalo issue and enjoy talking to others about it. You can help tell the buffalo's story and inspire action from the millions who flock to the Parks to admire them.
If you've been wanting to experience the beauty of the Yellowstone ecosystem and speak out for the buffalo, we want to hear from you! Applicants should be hardworking, outgoing, friendly folks who are comfortable camping for up to five days at a time (in the parks - what a dream!). A minimum commitment of one month is required (and appreciated). BFC will provide a small stipend as well as room and board.

Interested? Contact Stephanie Munce at buffaloatwildrockies.org or call 406-646-0070.
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* Tatanka 2006 ~ Built to Spill Benefit Concert for BFC!
Join BFC for a rockin' benefit for the wild Buffalo & Buffalo Field Campaign in Boise, Idaho with Built to Spill, Travis Ward & Junkyard Bandstand, and Bales of Hey Saturday June, 3rd, Big Easy Concert House. Tickets are on sale now and have been reduced in price from $21 to $15! We'll see you there!

For more information and to order tickets please visit http://www.buffalofieldcampaign.org/. Many thanks to Built to Spill and Ken Cole for making this event possible!
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* Last Words
"The killing by the state of Montana could threaten the future of this national symbol and the biological integrity of the last wild herd."
~ Former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, 1997


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